Live from SMX West: Driving Ecommerce & Retail Sales Through Search Marketing

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Mar 1, 2012
More Articles by Janet


Well, sadly this is my last post from SMX West — it’s been great! This session focused on ecommerce and retail sales, so if you sell online, this is the session for you! The panel featured Alex Edelstein of Servio, Everett Sizemore of seOverflow and Lisa Williams of MEDIA forte marketing.

Alex Edelstein

Alex was up first and started by covering whole page optimization. What are all the things you can do on the page to affect rankings? There are scalable services now, like Servio, to edit page titles. He shared a case study where Target wasn’t ranking in Google for the right pages for certain searches. They had unfriendly URLs too. He rewrote the title tags and URLs for 236 long tail keywords, most already ranking. They used CloudCrowd to crowdsource the work to rewrite titles. After 30 days, there was a significant jump in rankings — the average keyword jumped by 20 POSITIONS in Google. Wow!! At Bing and Yahoo, it was a 40 position average change! The pages also were much more relevant, which is better for the user. So bottom line: don’t leave out title tags and urls when doing page optimization!

The second case study was on category pages. The category pages, like many, were image-dominated and had little text. This test involved 38 keywords for typical brands. They focused on keywords that were already in the top 20 so that they could really prove ROI by making good position movement and seeing more sales. The average rank improvement was 37%! The estimated ROI of 18x and a payback period of only 4 months.

Everett Sizemore

Everett was up next and discussed link building for products. Everett found that most product pages in a large site like Amazon don’t have many external links. That’s how smaller retailers can outrank the large sites — focus on link building!

Think about content that you might be using separately and put the link bait onto an existing product page. Videos and other content can go directly on a product page and help you attract new links to that page.

You could also crowdsource by using things like polls and social sharing and offer a coupon if the user participates and shares.

Also think about how you can use educational content to drive links. For instance, you could include how to use a product. Put them in a resources area, perhaps on a blog.

Another approach is product-specific coupon codes to high profile bloggers that they can offer to their readers. For instance, if you see a blogger write about your product, offer them a coupon code to add to the blog post for readers to purchase that product.

Lisa Williams

Lisa was the final speaker and focused on strategies to stand out in search:

  • ratings reviews
  • data feeds
  • internal site search
  • product recommendation tools

For ratings reviews, remember that 80% of shoppers are affected by negative reviews. How can you get reviews? Tools to use include:

  • Google Reviews
  • BizRate
  • TripAdvisor

If someone has a bad experience, reach out to them. It shows others how you interact with customers to resolve issues.

For data feeds, it’s important to keep up to date on the attributions and such. Make sure you have someone really working on that.

Have you done an internal site search audit? You should. Make sure your site search offers in the search results:

  • related keywords
  • mispellings
  • alternate names
  • competitor keyworsd
  • plurals
  • synonyms
  • legacy phrases
  • synonym phrases

Other tips for the design of the sitesearch box:

  • keep it simple
  • make it easy to find
  • customize and make sure it works
  • understand the searcher intent (skus, product search, and information search)
  • learn from queries
  • make iterative improvements to navigation

Understanding user intention is key.

Next up is product recommendation tools. Automate this selection — don’t choose your own.

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